By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to Typing on The Dead, Bleeding Cool's monthly breakdown and dissection of the latest issue of The Walking Dead. After last month's pacing issues, I was worried we'd be bounced around from story beat to story beat again without much being resolved. Luckily that's not the case as we're back to having some amazing action and brawls around the Hilltop. There's no mistake on who's the star of the issue, and boy does he get a chance to shine. As always, *SPOILER WARNING* for the rest of the article.
The Walking Dead #134 by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard
We pick up right where we left off last issue with a stitched zombie coming towards Jesus, knife in hand ready for battle. Jesus is ready for him as he dodges the incoming attack and delivers a devastating kick to the knee. The stitched zombie cries out in pain, confusing Jesus. He remarks how these zombies talk and feel pain, asking "What are you?" Though he doesn't have to wait long for an answer.
Jesus is approached by a group of Whisperers who tell him he doesn't belong. Jesus proceeds to tell the Whisperers that he's mad about the death of his friends and won't be going down without a fight. While battling the zombies in disguise, he notices one of the horses is in danger of getting swarmed. He's able to make his way to the animal and gives it a good slap, sending the beast plowing through a group of zombies. Determined to strike fear into the group Jesus asks how fast they can run, but while crossing blades with one of the Whisperers he hears downed patrolmen, Darius, crying out for help. Darius is being mobbed by actual zombies and now knowing he's got another person to worry about, Jesus goes into rescue mode. Jesus manages to shoulder check one of the Whisperers into a zombie and put's his blade through a couple of skulls, kicking and slashing his way to Darius. While on the way, Jesus lops off the top of a Whisperer's head, causing another to yell out, "Joshua!" catching Jesus a little off guard.
Finally having made his way to Darius, Jesus puts down a few more roamers and checks in on the injured guard. Darius tells him he doesn't think he was bitten thanks to the armor, but he's lost a lot of blood and is feeling cold. Jesus has thinned the Whisperers numbers, but a group is still marching his way. Jesus proceeds to slice and dice, and is alerted of an attack from behind by Darius. Our bearded hero is able to defend himself and ends up injuring the Whisperer with its own knife. The downed zombie comments on the blood and clearly isn't use to such injuries. Jesus finishes some cleanup on the Whisperer's compatriots, then checks on Darius seeing if he can walk. Jesus realizing he didn't finish the job with the injured Whisperer goes in for the killing blow, but the fake zombie begs for mercy, leaving us with a conflicted warrior.
At the Hilltop, Maggie is showing her cowgirl side by breaking in a new horse. She brings the animal to the corral and hands it off to a waiting ranch hand. Unfortunately he's not the only one waiting as the Hilltops former leader, Gregory, is looking to talk. The ex-politician makes a remark about little Hershel having a milkshake for dinner that she doesn't appreciate. Gregory apologizes, but Maggie knows this isn't a social call and he want something. It turns out Gregory wants information on Dante's rescue group. Maggie tells him it's barely been two full days and she's not ready to worry yet.
Gregory doesn't like her answer and jumps on the soap box, telling her it's an unacceptable answer. He says that as leader she has an obligation to keep the people safe and suggests sending someone to check on them. Maggie's not too happy about the second guessing and reiterates that it hasn't been two days and they don't know what they're dealing with. Gregory decides that Maggie isn't doing her job and tells her he's stepping in and will take a horse out himself, but she's not too impressed with his bravado.
Off in a different part of the Hilltop, Sophia and Carl are out reminiscing about the days at the prison. Carl asks her if she remembers when Allen got his leg cut off, Sophia responds that she remembers everything even the fact that her real mother is dead. Carl continues with the questioning, asking if she remembered the answer she gave him when he asked if the roamers scared her. Sophia does and tells Carl that, "They were sad. I felt sorry for them." Carl tells her how much that philosophy helped him get over his fear, admitting that while he was still wary of the dead, it put them into perspective. Sophia gets a quick quip in about Carl being a wimp, but doesn't get to savor it as Carl's hit from behind with a brick by the two boys Sophia chased off in issue #131.
One of the attackers tells Sophia that he wasn't going to hurt the boy she protected very much, and she and Carl can take his place. The boys mock Carl, commenting on how he doesn't seem that tough. Sophia tells them it'll take more than a brick to hurt her, but the boys claim they've come prepared this time. Carl ends up running away while the boys mock him, and Sophia tells them she doesn't need him, hitting one of them right across the face. One of the boys grabs hold of Sophia and doesn't let go, she yells out that the two are being stupid and if they hurt her they'll get banished. The little bullies doesn't care though, they've got a plan.
He replies that if Carl tells on them it'll just seem like he's covering for her and he'll get told not to pick fights. The boy starts kicking and punching Sophia, but in the background we see a blunt object incoming.
Carl catches the boy who was holding Sophia in the back of the head with a shovel and then bashes her attacker. One of the boys begs Carl to stop, but it's no mercy, as he swings and connects with several more shots. Sophia's attacker pleads that he's sorry, but again no mercy as Carl connects with more devastating blows. A beaten and bloody Sophia's only reaction is, "Carl…"
At the Hilltop entrance Jesus is back with Darius in tow. He's not sure how Darius clung to life, but he needs Doc Carson to help him right away. But Jesus hasn't just returned with his compatriot, he's brought home another guest as well.
With the excitement from Jesus's dramatic arrival still fresh there's more bad news for Maggie as a beaten Carl and Sophia limp towards her. Carl explains that Sophia was attacked and thinks he killed her attackers.
I've talked about action packed slugfests in the past but wow, this one was punchier than a mixed martial arts fight. Starting off with the star of the issue, Jesus is again proving what an incredible asset he is to the community and showing that he's a hell of a fighter to boot. During his early appearances we knew Jesus was pretty agile and over time we learned he was an amazing hand to hand fighter, and a pretty nice person as well.
This issue not only cemented his status as the series best fighter but perhaps the perhaps the most interesting as well. He's become such a prominent cast member and we know almost nothing about his backstory and pre-outbreak life. His performance against the Whisperers also begs so many questions about where he learned to fight. Was he Special Forces, CIA, Marine, or something else? Is he just an accomplished marshal artist or is there more to it? This issue left me with a new appreciation for the bearded bushido warrior and it's great to see him shine in the spotlight.
Our biggest reveal was undoubtedly the Whisperers. Although I'm still speculating on who these people are, we do know from there interaction with Jesus that they seem to be using the zombie disguises solely as a guerrilla tactic at this point. They're able to walk around without fear of being attacked by roamers, while simultaneously using the fear and sometimes apathy people have for zombies as a tool. I'd imagine their tactics have worked well on smaller groups using the undead façade, but with communities of several hundred do they have the forces to match up? In coming issues we're certain to find out more about them as Jesus was able capture a prisoner, but no one should forget that the Whisperers have Dante as a prisoner as well.
Gregory trying to grandstand in front of Maggie was a bit amusing. The one time politician has always come off as cowardly and self-serving, so it seems like genuine concern for Dante isn't a motivating factor. The obvious answer is he wants his old job back now that the Hilltop is a peaceful community that runs like clockwork. Although his hearts in the wrong place, we do know Dante is in trouble, so will this serve as a platform for Gregory to cast doubt on Maggie's leadership and try to take control of the Hilltop?
Carl and Sophia's scene together was a nice little heartfelt moment of quiet reflection, where two old friends were able to reconnect. The duo reminiscing on their former lives in the prison seemed both touching and sad as we're reminded of the traumatic childhood they've had to endure to survive. I can't say it was surprising the bullies from #131 came back, but I was surprised with how vicious their attack was. What was interesting about the whole scenario was Carl's reaction, it initially felt strange for Carl to run, but I figured there'd be more to it. However Carl coming back with a bigger weapon speaks volumes of the young man. He's been living in a waking nightmare where survival is everything, he went into survival mode and fought smarter, not harder. I'd wager that both boys aren't dead, but it also strikes me as no one will be messing with Carl Grimes anytime soon. I'm also curious if this will lead to a divide between the people of the Hilltop, the one bully comments on how his parents know Sophia beat them up last time. Will the savage beating Carl gave them sway people away from Maggie's leadership back to Gregory's side?
We're edging ever closer to more questions being answered, I wouldn't count on getting the Whisperers origin story next month, but it's coming. I'm happy to finally see this larger world that Kirkman is building and I can't wait to see where this new threat will take our intrepid survivors.
That's all for this month, if you like video games check out my weekly recap of new releases every Tuesday night with Sweet Release! It's prime game season and cool stuff is on its way out. Also why don't you go check out the revived Live From The Comic Shop piece the Christine Marie writes from the local comic shop, Conquest Comics. Go ask co-owner Pete how he feels about Mountain Dew Baja Blast.
Jared Cornelius is some guy from the Jersey coast who finally back from the great white north. If you'd like to some moose jerky contact him on Twitter @John_Laryngitis